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The Traitor's Daughter (The Veiled Isles Trilogy) Paperback – October 4, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
“Rich world-building, relentless pacing . . . an impressively imaginative epic . . . While the revolutionary and romantic threads are engaging, it is [Paula] Brandon’s multilayered narrative that makes this novel such an immersive reading experience.”—Publishers Weekly
“Compellingly complex motivations and character dynamics mark Paula Brandon’s welcome debut.”—Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of Naamah’s Kiss
“A flawless all-round performance . . . Here’s a story to enwrap, enchant, and sweep you away.”—Richard Harland, author of Worldshaker
“Paula Brandon’s The Traitor’s Daughter is a dark, rich feast, rife with plagues, kidnappings, political intrigues, bloody crimes, bloodier revenges, arcane upheavals, and the threat of zombies.”—Delia Sherman, author of Changeling
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(Also, lol@the reviewer who thought that this was the author's first novel).
Ok, preliminaries done? Disclaimers disclaimed? Good. Let's get to it then.
A bit of history for those who don't know, Paula Brandon is a pen-name for Paula Volsky, an industry vet who went on a decade-long hiatus at the turn of the century, much to the dismay of her fans (of which I'm one). So I was very pleased to find out that she'd started writing again. Even better, she seems to have lost none of her skill. The Traitor's Daughter is very well written and executed fantasy. Engaging (if not necessarily likable) characters, smooth prose, and Volsky's signature dialogue (I'd call it Vancian in places) make this an easy book to like, providing you don't have a weak stomach--the writing may be elevated but the story most certainly is not.
If I had to complain, I'd say that it's _too_ much of a fantasy--the trappings are conventional (especially the magic system) and overarching plot arc (magical apocalypse presaging the return of ancient all-powerful conquerors) lack the flair of Volsky's earlier work. (If you want something a little off the beaten path, I recommend you try the Wolf of Winter). It all feels too familiar at times.
But the devil's in the details, and Volsky handles them very well. I hope books two and three display more of Volsky's creativity.
Jianna Belandor is a strong willed 18 year old girl who is leaving her home to meet her betrothed. Completely smitten and trusting of her father, she doesn't realize she has to leave their city because her father is despised by everyone. All she sees is a wonderful, adoring and honorable man, but we as the reader know better. Half way through her 3 day journey, she's kidnapped and all her bodyguards, aunt and maid are slaughtered before her eyes. She chooses to fight and she is beaten unconscience. When she wakes, she learns that she's to be married to the murdering thug who killed her family, kidnapped her and beat her senseless as an act of revenge since her father allegedly killed his father and ruined their family's lives. Buying time by agreeing to the ruse, Jianna manages to escape only to be found by Falaste Rione, a doctor and loyal ally with her kidnappers. He takes her back thinking things can't be that bad for her only to learn slowly but surely that her betrothed is chomping at the bit to rape and torture her and he can't simply sit back and let it happen.
Meanwhile, her father is dealing with political intrigue in addition to finding his daughter, magical families are recognizing signs of an upcoming apocalypse, and if the prophecies are true, hated enemies are going to have to work together if they're going to try and save mankind.
Needless to say, there's a lot going on in this book and I have to admit that I wasn't always caught up in the spell of it. About half of the book was world building, political espionage, and signs of the world altering, and the other half focused on Jianna, who starts out naive and spoiled but is slowly accepting that her father is not the beloved man she thought he was. When the series is done, I believe that it will have a nice balance and great story to tell, but as a standalone book, it was simply too depressing. For the feint of heart, a dog is bludgeoned to death and Jianna is constantly being beaten, kicked, punched, slapped...for pretty much the whole book... with the looming threat of rape hanging over her head with every breath. Definitely not feel good material and there's no triumphant moment to lighten the mood. I thought for sure Jianna would have some magical ability to get her out of the mess she finds herself in, but no dice, which makes me wonder why the book is even named for her since her value is truly unknown to me. Oddly enough, it ends on a note that could compel me to read the rest of the series since it finally brings us into threat of mankind epic territory, but as a standalone book, I struggled to get through it.
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